Did you hear that last night? That was the sound of Philadelphia starting to breathe again.
After Cole Hamels took the mound, one thing was certain—there was no dust on the bottle. He had seven K’s in 95 pitches, sailing 2008-style through the game atop his 80 mile an hour changeup. Then in the sixth, he sent two batters to base on balls when his arm ran out of quarters.
That’s when Charlie came to the mound and said, “We’re clean outta change.” And when Charlie says something, he means it. I don’t imagine Charlie’s the type of guy who wastes words (unlike yours truly who’s been known to stretch a 300-word intention to well over the limit). And I’m willing to bet Charlie’s never used Wikipedia.
The lower end of the lineup is still looking tough. You know that part—the land of misfit boys. It includes Jayson Werth, a guy who sat out the 2006 season with a bad wrist and didn’t even start when he was signed by the Phils with a cautious one-year contract ‘Werth’ a measly $850,000.
There’s Raul Ibanez who in 2001 passed waivers twice and was turned down by all twenty-nine teams. We picked him up as a replacement for Pat Burrell who had developed as much on-field speed as Winnie-the-pooh.
I don’t think our expectations for Raul were high. Although opinions on his ability differ (Mariner fans said, “Don’t let the door hit you on your way out,” but other sports professionals claim he was underrated), I guess all the ‘I-Bomb-Nez’ signs in left field sway that decision like the votes by fans on Dancing with the Stars.
Then we have the aging Pedro Feliz, who came to the Phils last year booked as the best third basemen in the league to form the “Three ‘Infield’ Musketeers” along with Jimmy and Chase. It was a pleasant surprise.
But then!!! Who’d have guessed Ryan would show up for spring training early (even after signing a comfortable three-year $54 million contract) intent on improving his footwork to become the 2009 error-free fielding machine. From this moment on, I dub thee ‘D'Artagnan’.
Last but not least we have Chris Coste who admitted in a memoir to being a 33-year-old rookie—a rather dubious honor. But even he delivered a dinger last night. The cost of fame for Coste is high.
So the mixture of talent and experience helped the high-priced toys and the misfit boys deliver last night. If you put yourself in Jo-Jo Reyes shoes, all you can think is, “What’s a pitcher to do?” If you couple the eight runs he gave up with his error and his fielders’ brief lapse in ball throwing, you get a game you just assume drink away.
Whether the Phils dominate this year or not, there’s one thing for certain: the hodge-podge will do it together; they’re a team.
And they all have the same dream: one for all and all for one.